The first sentence of President Trump’s joint address to congress last night was this; “Tonight, as we mark the conclusion of our celebration of Black History Month, we are reminded of our nation’s path toward civil rights and the work that still remains to be done”. I have been an African-American all my life, so I guess I could say I have been celebrating “Black History Month” since I was born. But I have to admit, this was the first one that has felt different from the others. Prior to the age of 20, I have observed and celebrated “Black History Month” primarily in the African-American church (and even there it was normal to keep observing throughout the year). Now my observance of “Black History Month” has been primarily in the context of multi-ethic but still predominately white churches. However weird it may sound; this lead to me to writing a blog.
The Reason I Started Blogging
Because I am a minority, I find my self in two different worlds, with both having problems that are unique in their context. For primarily theological reasons, I left the African-American church I was a member of. This was not an easy move for me, I miss my old pastor and faith family even still to this day. The church was apart of a convention I participated in, I gained many friends and associated with a lot of ministers within it. But the move was necessary for the sake of my own biblical convictions. So I searched out a church home that aligned more with my theological convictions. I found this in multi-ethic but still predominately white church, and I became apart of another world.
There are some African-American pastors who believe that it is a mistake for their people to join predominately Caucasian churches. In their minds, African-Americans are not helping the causes of their own people group by leaving them, and they also feel African-Americans lose their culture by joining a predominately white church. These pastors can usually paint a big brush over all predominately white churches, the brush that says that African-Americans are not as equal to the white majority as they may think they are, and this can come out through social life, politics, and even worship. unfortunately some of these things are true. There are concerns in the Black community that go untouched by the white majority. So because of this attitude, I may not be trusted by “some” African-American church leaders because I have joined a predominantly white church. This can hurt deeply, because I can feel like I am being told it’s either “us” or “them”. But although I left my local African-American church, I have never left the African-American community.
I don’t believe being a minority in predominately white churches is unbiblical, I just know by experience that minorities have many things to lose being there. When they join these churches, they take on the culture of the denominate people group represented there. As it has been said; we acknowledge who we are, while being what the dominate culture is. For me that meant adjusting to a different style of worship. I didn’t grow up around a lot of white people, so I had to learn how to communicate with my new family (I couldn’t speak the same as I would with another African-American), I had to learn what they liked and how to relate to them. Many Caucasians know very little about African-American history, culture, or their core concerns, so I have suffered many attitudes of ignorance and insensitivity. I have experienced that most of my white family are very much willing to embrace me spiritually, but don’t possess the desire or the knowledge for how to embrace me culturally. I feel paralyzed to speak for Black core concerns for fear of offending or appearing to be “the angry black guy”. I may also never be accepted/trusted by “some”African-American church leaders in my city because I have joined a predominately white church. I lose a lot of relationships and physical access to social problems that are handled more consistently by the African-American church, and the more I grow conscious of these circumstances; it causes me to feel lonely.
Did you notice I have a lot more to lose in “World Two”? This is why I decided to devote time to these struggles and figure out my role in my other world. I have learned so much in predominately white churches, but I began to wonder what have they been learning from me? I began reaching out to both worlds at the beginning of this year. Having the idea of blogging for “Black History Month”, I used these interviews as resources for my targeted subjects. I intentionally talked to those African-American leaders that I knew didn’t want me in white churches, I also intentionally talked to those white individuals that had no point of reference for what it is like being an African-American ( I also talked to people in between). Because of our relationships, they were honest with me, and from that I wrote balanced material on the subjects of Racial Justice, African-American culture & church history, The Ghetto, and Reconciliation.
The month of February generated 517 views for the blog, with all 6 posts having an average of 80 views. Pretty small numbers but also expected considering my little influence. My target audience was Christians in both worlds. But it was my hope (since I am a minority of the church), that my own church could use the information I shared and be benefited from it, in such a way that it helped them think through the conflicts between White & African-American Christians. I never asked them or hinted that this was for them, I just began the hard work (and risk) of initiating the conversation. My advantage was that it was “Black History Month”, but now it’s over. Although I may not blog weekly anymore, I know that engaging these conversations can’t stop.
I believe bringing awareness of minority core concerns is important for the witness of the gospel. I recognize the limitations of White Christians who desire to pursue this gospel work, and I also recognize that without willing and intentional action, the gap between our worlds will grow bigger. If we truly believe the glory of Christ is displayed in all the people groups & nations, then we must seek to be reconciled with them. “Black History Month” may be over (officially at least), but will the conversation stop here? What are you willing to do to continue pursuing this gospel work?
If you have followed me this month and listened with the intent to understand minority perspectives, thank you for bearing “one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). Happy African-American History Month!